The Sustainable Work-From-Home Contact Center: WFO Streamlines Remote and Hybrid Operations


The following Q&A is part of a series on creating a sustainable work-from-home contact center. Each post examines a vital technology that supports contact centers in the transition to a permanent remote-work model. Below, Five9’s Mike Bourke discusses how workforce optimization solutions give agents more influence over their schedules, while providing managers with tools for coaching, real-time supervision and employee engagement. He highlights the work-from-home (WFH) challenges that WFO solves, along with key features of the solution, how to get the most out of the technology, and valuable advice on making a successful transition to a permanent WFH model.

Senior Vice President, Product, Five9
Five9 Workforce Optimization (WFO)


Q. What WFH challenge(s) does WFO solve?

Supporting remote and hybrid workforces now requires organizations to go beyond WFM to embrace Workforce Optimization (WFO). WFO streamlines remote and hybrid contact center operations by integrating tools for workforce management, quality management, interaction analytics, performance management and gamification.

Remote agents are juggling their work and home lives like never before, managing new distractions and schedule adjustments as customers reach out more frequently across more channels. WFO solutions increase the collaboration between agents and management, empowering the agents to have more influence over their schedules. These tools help agents better manage the new demands of working from home during a pandemic while still also ensuring the needs of the business and customers are met.

WFO also helps managers coach and motivate agents wherever they work, thanks to key features like live monitoring for the whole team, coaching, agent assist capabilities and gamification.

Key Features

In addition to adaptive, scalable scheduling, key features of WFO include:

  • Real-time supervision for managers. Some solutions allow supervisors to see their entire team’s desktop activity, monitor voice calls in real-time, and directly intervene, if needed, to help ensure call quality and optimize the customer experience. These capabilities are critical and an effective replacement to “walking the aisle” to keep a pulse on where intervention is necessary.
  • Coach, train and guide agents. WFO can help managers uncover coaching and training needs through interaction quality evaluation and interaction analytics. Supervisors can maximize agents’ contributions to success by easily sharing operational metrics, key performance indicators, and service level agreement statistics. WFO allows supervisors to provide traditional coaching during an interaction, or it can leverage AI to drive real-time guidance.
  • Self-empower agents. WFO is not just about supervisors and management. With the right solution, WFO helps empower agents to view schedules, access evaluations, submit time-off requests; and receive notifications of upcoming schedule events, request approvals and time-off offers so that they can manage their own personal well-being and prevent burnout.
  • Gamification to engage agents. Gamification is an extension of performance management and helps engage and motivate agents in a way that aligns with the overarching business objectives. It can create a sense of healthy competition and interaction among dispersed teams of agents and keep them motivated wherever they are located. Agents can compete to win both virtual and real-life prizes, and supervisors can reward continued learning, good performance and positive behavior. Gamification can also be useful during onboarding to make new-hire training more engaging for agents starting their new jobs from home.

Q. How does it add value for end customers?

According to research from Metrigy, companies using WFO saw a 36.5% improvement in customer ratings. It all comes back to making sure customers get their questions answered and challenges addressed—and it’s all about making that easy.

Start with leveraging bots and AI to speed up and automate the interaction when possible, and when the customer needs to talk to a live person, businesses need to be able to respond or pick up the phone quickly. A representative of the company that is enabled and motivated to do what is right for the customer is going to provide a better customer experience.

Q. Tips for getting the most out of this tool?

WFO solutions that are integrated within a cloud contact center platform will drive the best customer and agent experience, as well as the best business outcomes. Fully integrating WFO capabilities into agent and supervisor desktop applications supports easy access and, therefore, increased adoption. Plus, integrated solutions can help enterprises save on licensing, training, system maintenance and ongoing support.

Q. Advice for making a successful transition to a permanent WFH model?

The key to good customer service is agents who feel empowered and energized. The past year has proven that good customer service doesn’t have to be routed to the traditional co-located contact center. A more flexible and agile approach can do much to empower agents while resulting in greater convenience and satisfaction for themselves and for customers alike.

The cloud provides this all-important, flexible foundation on which contact center leaders can quickly and easily deploy new technologies, including WFO applications. Key to enabling the level of digital transformation we’ve seen in the past year, the cloud also empowers agents with intuitive, easy-to-learn and -use tools that put the technology in the background and let the agent focus on the customer.

Next up in the WFH tech series: Video interviewing